Ship Recycling - Background


Ships, at some stage, reach the end of their operating life.


The life cycle for most ships, from cradle to grave or makers to breakers gives a life span of operation of 20-25 years, or more. In 2001, the OECD noted an increasing casualty rate for older ships remaining in operation, especially for bulk ships and tankers. The steady withdrawal of older ships and their replacement by new tonnage, therefore, is a natural commercial process which provides the opportunity for the introduction of safer and more environmentally friendly designs, greater operating efficiency and a general reduction in marine risk.


In general, recycling is one of the basic principles of sustainable development. For the disposal of time-expired ships there are few alternatives to recycling, lay-up only postpones the issue; there is only a limited opportunity to convert ships for other uses such as storage facilities, breakwaters or tourist attractions; scuttling, strictly controlled by the London Convention, gives no opportunity for the steel and other materials and equipment in a ship to be recycled.


So, recycling is, generally, the best option for all time-expired tonnage.


Furthermore, demand for ship recycling is expected to rise in the near future as ships, particularly oil tankers, which do not conform to the new international requirements set by the MARPOL Convention, reach the end of their commercial lives.


While the principle of ship recycling is sound, the working practices and environmental standards in the recycling facilities often leave much to be desired. Although responsibility for conditions in the recycling facilities has to lie with the countries in which they are situated, other stakeholders can contribute towards minimizing potential problems related to health, safety and protection of the environment in the recycling facilities and should apply these Guidelines.


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